In the wake of the accusations last year that some South Africa Sauvignon Blancs owed their aroma to added flavourings (see South Africans accused of using 'wine flavour steroids'), the South African Wine & Spirit Board has just released the following statement:
SA Wine & Spirit Board testing for the use of illegal flavourants in 2004 vintage Sauvignon Blanc is complete, according to the organisation's management committee chairman Dr Jakob Deist, with the outcome of further tests on one inconsistency awaited. These results are expected in early January. All supplies of the winery's Sauvignon Blanc in question have been seized and placed under embargo until further notice.
Although flavourants do not in any way pose a health risk to consumers, it is illegal to use them to change the character of wines.
The testing programme covering all the Cape's wine-growing districts to monitor for the possible use of added flavourants in Sauvignon Blanc, represented almost 25% of the country's producers of the varietal, Deist said. "Normally a sample of 5% to 10% would have been more than adequate, but we obviously wanted to dig deeper to ascertain as far as was realistically feasible that no abuse would go undetected. We have neither the resources nor the capacity to check every single producer but we checked the full spectrum from the corporates to the co-operatives and the mid-size, boutique and garagiste wineries."
Over and above the random sampling, all wineries suspected of using illegal flavourants in 2003 or earlier vintages, had their Sauvignon Blancs tested, said Deist.